Content - Japan takes supporting role for Swiss Cybathlon

  • November 11, 2018

Japan takes supporting role for Swiss Cybathlon

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Cybathlon, an international competition invented and organized by ETH Zurich for disabled competitors and their bionic assistive technology, finds increasing support in Japan. A Cybathlon team attended the World Robot Summit on invitation of the government. Also, the Wheelchair Series, one of the six Cybathlon disciplines, will take place in May 2019 in Kawasaki. The Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan is one of the sponsors of this event. The Swiss Ambassador to Japan, Jean-François Paroz met with Norihiko Fukuda, Mayor of Kawasaki City, and Osamitsu Yamada, Chairman of the Kawasaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to congratulate the municipality for becoming the host town of the first official Cybathlon event to be held in Japan.

Supported by Swiss embassy

Participation in robot exposition

At the recent World Robot Summit 2018 in Tokyo, Swiss pilot Florian Hauser of team HSR Enhanced was demonstrating daily their stair-climbing wheelchair – live moderated in English and Japanese. The Cybathlon initiative was invited to perform demos at this government-led exposition. The Science & Technology Office Tokyo (STOT) of the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan organized a booth with a home-like atmosphere to emphasize the goals of Cybathlon to be useful in daily life.  

Cybathlon is a championship for racing pilots with disabilities using advanced assistive devices, including robotic technologies. It was invented by Robert Riener, Professor at the Sensor-Motor Systems Lab, Department of Health Sciences and Technology at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligence Systems, ETH Zurich.   

The demo and the booth space enabled representatives of the Cybathlon and team HSR Enhanced from the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil to present their projects to an international audience. In addition, its Head of Competition, Lukas Jäger, gave a talk about Cybathlon and announced the Cybathlon Wheelchair Series at Cultz Kawasaki, a new sports and cultural facility belonging to the city that is designed to be barrier-free in many ways.

Swiss team at World Robot Summit 2018 (© HSR Rapperswil, Claudia Troger)

Swiss team at World Robot Summit 2018 (© HSR Rapperswil, Claudia Troger)

Wheelchair event in Kawasaki

The Cybathlon Series in the discipline “Powered Wheelchair Race” is organized by the “Cybathlon Wheelchair Series Japan Organizing Committee” and supported by the Swiss Embassy. On May 5th, the competition of teams from Japan and all over the world will showcase their latest technical solutions to overcome the challenges in everyday life people with disability face. This wheelchair competition includes the original obstacle course of the Cybathlon and also follows its rules. In addition to the races there will be a scientific Symposium on May 6th. 

Japan as a whole is advancing its efforts towards an inclusive society and the use of technology is one approach that is being promoted. The municipality of Kawasaki is promoting diversity through its Para Movement activities, very much compatible with the ideals of Cybathlon. “We believe that hosting a Cybathlon Series is another great step towards more inclusion,” ETH Zurich said in a statement.

Such objectives are also in line with the Swiss Embassy’s purport to promote humanitarian efforts through international collaboration. Hence, Swiss Ambassador Paroz offered his best wishes and support to Mayor Fukuda, who expressed that hosting the Cybathlon Series is a pleasure and honor for the city.

(from right) Kawasaki Mayor Fukuda, Chairman Yamada, Swiss Ambassador Paroz, Dr. Meyer (Head, STOT) (© Embassy of Switzerland in Japan)

(from right) Kawasaki Mayor Fukuda, Chairman Yamada, Swiss Ambassador Paroz, Dr. Meyer (Head, STOT) (© Embassy of Switzerland in Japan)

Japan teams at Cybathlon

Mr. Yamada of the Kawasaki Chamber will lead the organizing committee as chairman together with vice chairmen Prof. Kohei Itoh, Dean of the Faculty and Graduate School of Science of Keio University and Prof. Shuro Nakajima of Wakayama University. The latter participated with his team in the 2016 edition of Cybathlon and was awarded an amazing 4th place.  

Three Japan teams had joined the first Cybathlon competition 2016 in Zurich. In his recent book “Robot – are they our enemies or our friends?”, he argues that the coming “fusion of machine and body” can become great physical support to people with disabilities, by helping them evolve in their everyday environment, as the Science & Technology Office of the Swiss Embassy reported


Text: SCCIJ with material of ETH Zurich and EDA; Photo Caption for top photo: (from left) Lukas Jäger (Head of Competition & Partnerships, Cybathlon), Dr. Yulia Gusynina Paroz, Florian Hauser (Team HSR Enhanced's Pilot), Ambassador Jean-François Paroz, Anni Kern (Head of Strategy, Finances & Teams, Cybathlon) (© HSR Rapperswil, Claudia Troger)

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